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February 10, 2015

CNN’s Zakaria Puts Foot in Mouth Again with Israel-ISIS Analogy


Fareed Zakaria’s take on Feb. 9, 2015 cited the Irgun, a covert Jewish group in British Mandatory Palestine, as an inspiration for ISIS’ (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) terrorism. Irgun was one of three Jewish underground military organizations in 1945-1948 that fought to bring about the end of the U.N. Mandate and the establishment of a Jewish state. Zakaria has demonstrated a compulsion to see Israel darkly, regardless of facts (examples here, here, here), and this is one more piece in the pattern.

Here, Zakaria implicitly equates ISIS to Irgun — Islamic fundamentalists who commit mass murder of children, trade captured minority women as "wives" and "execute" prisoners by beheading and immolation to Jewish nationalists who attempted to avoid non-combatant casualties.

ISIS slaughters and enslaves as many as it can of those opposing its ideology bent on establishing a world wide caliphate under sharia (Islamic law). But the Irgun, a small group numbering less than 2000, aimed primarily at destroying property. It did not target noncombatants, let alone insist at gunpoint that non-Jews convert to Judaism, on its way to compelling Britain to remove its troops from what was to become Israel.

Zakaria said, “The group [ISIS] well understands that the primary purpose of terrorism is to induce fear and overreaction… The Irgun knew that they could not defeat the mighty British Army so they decided to blow up buildings and create the appearance of chaos.”

On Irgun, Zakaria scavenges a 40-year-old article by historian David Fromkin. Writing in Foreign Affairs (“The Strategy of Terrorism” in July, 1975 issue). Fromkin recounted what an Irgun founder said in 1945 at a meeting in New York: “His organization would attack property interests. After giving advance warning to evacuate them, his small band of followers would blow up buildings. This, he said, would lead the British to overreact by garrisoning the country with an immense army drawn from stations in other parts of the world. But postwar Britain could not afford financially to maintain so great an army either there or anywhere else for any extended period of time... the plan of attacking property without hurting people proved to be unrealistic. Accidents inevitably occur when violence is unleashed …The bloodshed caused by the Irgun isolated it politically and alienated the rest of the Palestinian Jewish community... Yet despite its flaws, the strategy was sufficiently ingenious so that the Irgun played a big part in getting the British to withdraw.”

The Irgun did play an important part in raising the cost to Great Britain — deplete of manpower, impoverished by the costs of World War II and facing challenges in colonies such as India — of hanging on to its Palestine Mandate. But in doing so, its tactics involved few if any terrorist attacks targeting non-combatants. Its goal, helping to establish a small Jewish state, was far from ISIS' use of self-publicized wholesale and retail barbarism in support of imposing an international, perhaps world-wide Islamic caliphate under harsh religious law. Zakaria's Irgun-to-ISIS analogy, hijacking Fromkin's article essentially dealing with other issues in the rise of modern terrorism, is one more symptom of his underlying Israel-obsessive syndrome.

What’s the secret of Zakaria’s charmed life on CNN? Viewers see what CNN management still won't; in addition to plagiarism and insufficiently cited sources, misplaced appeals to authority and tortuous analogies do not make Zakaria a foreign policy expert. Rather, they undermine his pretense to being one.

Posted by MK at February 10, 2015 07:20 PM


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